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An Open Letter: The NCAA should Restore Reggie ASAP

Updated: Nov 3, 2023


Reggie's Heisman at USC

WHEN I WAS A COLLEGE FRESHMAN, way back in 2012 at the lovely little Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, I remember the panic of making sure I got absolutely everything I needed to make it through my first semester. Many frantic trips to Target were made with my mom, scouring every aisle for deals on backpacks, pens, paper, and paperclips that were weirdly shaped, making sure that I had every last thing I needed.


Then came the most important tool for class, according to my sweet mother.


A calculator.


I begged her to just let me get a cheap, store-brand, ultra-thin calculator that wouldn’t break the bank, but she insisted I get one of those Texas-I Whatchamacallit devices that could do graphs and lines and had a case. However, for some reason in my head, I just had a hunch I wouldn’t need it. Sure, math was never an easy subject for me (henceforth, I’m a journalist) but if I had no plans to enter higher-level math classes after Sophomore year, why on earth would we spend north of $80 for a “better” calculator?


Being a mom, she won out. We spent the money and bought a nice calculator for school. Granted, your average rocket scientist would have appreciated it a lot, but to a guy who was more interested in words and video games, it was just another tool.


Sure enough, I breezed past basic math and forced myself through a geometry class, mostly watching YouTube to help when I got stumped. How many times did I use that calculator?


Maybe (MAYBE!!!) twice.


In retrospect, it was a waste of money (sorry Mom, I appreciated it though) and a waste of space in my backpack. When I figured I didn’t need it that much, it became a waste of space in my desk drawer. When a new semester came up, I brought it with me out of fear that I would eventually need it, but it became a waste of space in my new digs every time then, too.


I used to see it as one of the biggest wastes in human history.


At least, I used to. Then I remembered the NCAA exists.


AT THIS STAGE of life in the history of college football, the NCAA reminds me of the two old hecklers from the Muppets Theater. Sitting on the balcony over everyone, complaining about the show, and looking for opportunities to butt in and interrupt the fun, not having any control of the act, but always having something to say to make themselves a part of it.

At one point, perhaps they were a part of the action, which is why they can’t keep their noses out of what’s going on, but this isn’t 1906 anymore. The NCAA has had its uses - such as formally organizing the sport we now love - but once the politics of money and fame come into question, that’s when their usefulness becomes irrelevant.


And they have only become more irrelevant since 2021, when the great equalizers in college football- the first Name Image and Likeness laws- went into effect, allowing players to make a profit off their… well… name, image, and likeness. Suddenly realizing that the NCAA was not making as much money off a player as the player himself was, the battle for relevancy and control of the money has been on the ongoing debate in Washington, as the NCAA desperately clings to what little power it has left to ask Congress to create federal regulations on how much these young men (who go through intense workouts and physical combat) can make.


But not all NIL deals are created equal, and not all are for the glitz and glam of being a superstar. Most of these athletes are taking these deals to provide for their families.


As was the case for one Reginald Alfred Bush Jr.

The Trojan Sword at USC

THE PROBLEM FOR REGGIE BUSH was never his abilities. In college, Reggie was the second coming of Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker and every running back in between. “How God intended the running back to be,” I once heard someone say.


3,619 career rushing yards and 25 touchdowns across his three electrifying seasons at USC can speak for themselves when one asks who Reggie was. The only thing that went wrong for him was that Vince Young forgot to break his arm right before the 2006 Rose Bowl.


That, and NIL deals were a decade and a half away.


Shortly after Bush went pro in the 2006 NFL draft, reports surfaced on Yahoo that the Bush family had received improper benefits while at USC. When the case went to trial - as Lloyd Lake attempted to recover around $220,000.00 from the Bush family- the punishments began pouring in faster than whiskey in a barrel. Among them-

  • A two-year bowl ban for USC

  • Loss of national title recognition for USC

  • Reduction of scholarships for USC

  • Erasure of Reggie’s records as a running back

  • Loss of Reggie’s Heisman recognition

Pete Carroll bolted for the Seahawks soon after. Bush was given a 10-year ban from the school campus - a place he once called home. The NCAA got their moment to beat its chest as the organization prided itself as the “hero” of college football “equality” and “fairness”. More importantly, however, it once again gave them a sense of control in a sport that truly, no one can contain.


Laughable, isn’t it? Considering how much control they’ve truly lost. Perhaps for this reason, Reggie remains a victim.


"I felt like I died when I had to hear that there weren't gonna be scholarships for kids because of me or because of something connected to me. I'm still not over that... It's just something you learn to live with." – Reggie Bush, when he learned about the scholarship reduction at USC.

WHILE HE MAY BE A VICTIM, Bush is certainly no criminal of any major crime. No one was murdered. Nothing was stolen. Here is a man just trying to take care of his family. I would like every member of the NCAA to look me in the eye and tell me they wouldn’t risk it all for their momma.

Yet his guilt compelled him to do what not many athletes would do if they had made it into one of the most exclusive clubs on earth. He returned his Heisman to the Heisman trust, perhaps not as an admission of guilt, but as a show of good faith and recompense for what he had done. His school’s trajectory, and the lives of many young men who never had the chance to play for the Trojans, were changed forever.


Why? So that his family could live in a nicer house? Have reliable transportation?


He may have broken some rules, but those are yesterday's rules. How many heroes have been recognized by the Medal of Honor or Knighthood have been recognized for their service after a law change here or an acknowledgment there?


How many are even affected by Reggie’s actions today? Pete Carroll won a Super Bowl in 2012. There were 129 other FBS programs those young men could still play for and thanks to one Lincoln Riley, the once football powerhouse Southern California is back in the college spotlight!


The only one that remains affected is the 2005 all-time rushing leader, Doak Walker award winner, and Heisman Trophy winner, Reggie Bush.


“But Matthew!” you might say “Why not go after the Heisman trust?!”


In short, I believe that the Heisman Trust would restore Reggie to his title and trophy. They were open to communicating with him when he appealed them to give back his trophy, and have since refused to give the award to anyone else on the ballots that year. They simply won’t recognize him as the winner because of the erasure of his records.


Who is responsible for that you may ask?


The “mighty”, moaning, groaning NCAA.



AN OPEN LETTER


- TO THE NCAA

I’m sure I’m not the only one to complain about your meddling in student affairs, from denying students to play in front of their mommas because of transfer policy to the attempts to control NIL deals. Frankly, if a student is putting his body through that much physical stress every weekend, who cares how much they make? Just ask Damar Hamlin.


You are the villain in today's world. And not even one of the cool ones, like Darth Vader or the Joker. You’re more like the Shocker from Spider-Man, popping up here and there just to be a mild inconvenience for the heroes to whom we look up.


The College Football Playoff - whose champions you don’t even recognize - and NIL laws are essentially strangling the relevancy out of you. All it will take is Steve Spurrier to step in and create a new college football association for you to go from knocking at death’s door to hearing the final nail in the coffin.


However, here is your opportunity to be the hero, and to once again become the symbol of college football you think yourselves to be.

I, along with THOUSANDS of southern Californians, find it laughable that you don’t “recognize” Mr. Bush’s achievements at USC. Is putting white-out over the 1,740 rushing yards in his 2005 season going to make his family poor again? History is written by the victors, and the Trojans won much in that year. Most of it is thanks to Reggie Bush, who deservedly won the trophy that you stand in the way of him regaining.


You cannot erase the memory of the “Bush Push” from our minds, and you cannot erase the sting the fans felt when Texas threw that last-minute touchdown. It’s plain denial at this point.


And it's just silly.


You can make the right call here - for everyone. Mr. Bush has paid his due diligence and can finally return home to USC.


Yes, USC cheated and got caught, but do you think they were the only ones? I know for a fact that several other power-five schools were handing money under the table to recruits. If every single athlete who accepted money before NIL was caught, are we suddenly going to erase decades of history in the name of a couple of bucks? What makes USC different than the other schools is they simply got caught.

What makes Reggie different from other athletes is he owned up to it.


Ball is in your court. Do the right thing.


- TO THE 2005 HEISMAN TROPHY WINNER REGGIE BUSH

Thank you for all your contributions to the game we love, both on Saturdays and Sundays. Thank you for being honest and returning your trophy, setting an example of humility and accountability to other young men who will have their own difficult decisions in life to make. Thank you for your charity work and the good you do for the youth of the San Diego area and California. On behalf of SoCal natives, thank you for your time at USC.


No one faults you for what you did. I would’ve done the same for my family and I’m sure many other young men would too.


The record books may be blank where your contributions on the field should be written, but to this day they still stand to us, the fans. We still recognize your efforts on the field, the scoreboards at the end of the games, and more importantly you are still the people's 2005 Heisman Trophy winner.


- TO YOU, THE PEOPLE

If you wondered why College Football Dawgs exists, it’s because of causes like this one. By the fans, FOR the fans, and who wasn’t a fan of Reggie (besides UCLA and Notre Dame fans)? Our founders, Hunter Dworsky and Collin Sutrick echo my statements above, saying-


“The NCAA continues to drag its feet on correcting an action that should have never been taken in the first place.” The the scandal was a key factor in progressing the NIL timeline, now that it’s been approved it’s time for the NCAA & the Heisman Trophy Trust to meet this moment and not only return Reggie Bush 2005 Heisman Trophy but the 2004 BCS National Championship to USC.”
“We at College Football Dawgs are fans first, unlike ESPN, 247Sports, Fox etc. we do not have financial ties or restraint by the NCAA. We are speaking up for Reggie.” – CFD Founders Hunter and Collin

Whether you agree with us or not, one thing is certain. The NCAA and the Heisman Trust cannot peacefully ignore the issue anymore. The voice of the people have spoken, and they stand with Reggie on the issue.


The NCAA can take away trophies and awards and refuse to acknowledge history in the process. But they cannot take away the memories.


The yards.


The touchdowns.


The “Bush Push”.


The Rose Bowl.


Most of all, the Heisman ballots that forever voted Reggie as the best player in college football that year.


The trophy is gone, but his legacy is secured. The moments of glory from the Trojans, and especially from Reggie, will forever be a part of college football legend and lore.


Sooner or later, they will have to recognize that.


-Matthew

3 comments

3 commentaires


Jim Sutrick
Jim Sutrick
10 juin 2023

Nice article. LOVE the passion. Understand the take. Totally disagree with it. The world today is losing sight of accountability. Rules are rules. The penalties are the penalties. I drive a Camaro (and love it) and speed almost every day. If I get caught, I pay the penalty. If they raise the speed limit later the city/state doesn't send me a refund because the law changed. Reggie Bush was a phenomenal player. Amazing to watch, perform, and entertain. But he cheated. He is paying the consequences. What is the incentive to follow the rules, in an already wild west of enforcement, in college athletics if penalties are erased? I don't think that is a road we want to go down.


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En réponse à

Jim, torn both ways on your answer. First and foremost I am six decades a Trojan Fan. That being said the rules are not for everyone. We have seen far more challenging (factual) situations that did not have the severity imposed on the players or school. There are many, Joe Pa with Penn State for one. The. Ohio State Buckeyes and Coach T and lately the puzzling soft penalties imposed on Tenn. So, while I agree with you in principal "The World today is losing sight of accountability" I also think and believe that the rules are not followed nor enforced equally. For that reason alone I continue to support the Reggie Bush return of the trophy. Or…


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George Hancock
George Hancock
10 juin 2023

Absolutely agree with this. NIL is here to stay so forgiveness and reinstatement SHOULD

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Michigan Football
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